Nick Mensio

Free Agency Dose

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NFL Hot Stove, Day 2

Wednesday, March 13, 2013



The Patriots lurked in the shadows on Tuesday. New England lets everyone else make the silly deals, and they find value. … Talks have reportedly broken down with free agent slot receiver Wes Welker, but we’re still not ready to rule him out. Fellow free agent slot machine Danny Amendola is waiting in the wings as a fallback plan. … A Ryan Mallet trade is unlikely. The Browns and Bucs remain interested. … New England is one of free agent return man Josh Cribbs’ top-two choices, along with Arizona.

The Raiders cut bait with three more players. First-round busts receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and safety Michael Huff were among them. Defensive end Dave Tollefson, a free agency failure from last offseason, was the other. We like Heyward-Bey as a fit with the Vikings or Patriots. It’s quite possible Oakland has the worst roster in the league. We certainly think so. … Cornerback Phillip Adams wasn’t tendered an offer as a restricted free agent, but he later re-signed for one year and $630,000. He might have a shot at a starting job in 2013 the way it’s looking now.

The Rams had their sights on tight end Jared Cook, and they landed him for five years and $35.1 million. He’s essentially replacing Danny Amendola as the slot receiver in St. Louis, since he can’t block much at all. The Rams were set on finding more weapons for Sam Bradford, and Cook’s vertical skills are some of the best in the league. Cook chose the Rams over the Dolphins and Browns. … Free agent left tackle Jake Long will visit on Wednesday, and he is expected to sign as long as he passes a physical. … Free agent safety Louis Delmas arrived in St. Louis on Tuesday night and he’ll also officially visit on Wednesday. His old position coach with the Lions, Tim Walton, is the new defensive coordinator with the Rams. … The Rams re-signed defensive end William Hayes to a three-year, $10.5 million deal. It’s a good keep after Hayes had a career year in 2012. He was expected to draw heavy interest on the open market. … St. Louis extended an original-pick tender to safety Darian Stewart.

The Ravens suffered a crushing blow by losing linebacker Dannell Ellerbe to the Dolphins, but they did lock up a few of their own free agents on Tuesday. Special teams ace David Reed signed a two-year, $2.5 million deal, long snapper Morgan Cox re-upped, safety James Ihedigbo signed a one-year contract, and offensive lineman Ramon Harewood inked a one-year pact of his own. … Baltimore also added a new face to the defensive line. Chris Canty signed a three-year, $8 million deal. He’s likely to play end for the Ravens. … Baltimore is believed to be one of two teams interested in free agent receiver Danny Amendola.

The Redskins continued to keep the 2012 team together as much as possible. Defensive end Kedric Golston re-signed for three years and $5.2 million. The rotational lineman recorded 16 tackles in 16 games last season. Santana Moss reworked his deal, and he’ll be back to compete for a roster spot this summer.

The Saints lost a big part of their offense in left tackle Jermon Bushrod on Tuesday. He was thought of as a top priority in New Orleans, but the Saints wouldn’t fork out the dough. He instead signed a five-year, $36 million deal in Chicago. Charles Brown is expected to compete for the starting job on Drew Brees’ blindside. … Defensive end Will Smith and linebacker both took pay cuts to stay with the Saints. Smith took a $6 million hit, and Vilma took a $3.7 million slash. New Orleans also released linebacker Will Herring. … Free agent cornerback Derek Cox is scheduled to make a visit.

The Seahawks were busy introducing new acquisition Percy Harvin to the media on Tuesday. He’ll wear No. 11 for Seattle, and he inked a new six-year, $67 million deal upon his arrival. Harvin is now the league’s fifth-highest paid receiver in terms of annual average behind Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Wallace, and Dwayne Bowe. … Kick returner and running back Leon Washington was released. The 30-year-old should latch on elsewhere. … There reportedly isn’t much cooking on the Matt Flynn trade front.

The Steelers took care of a few of their own on Tuesday. Fullback David Johnson re-signed for one year, linebacker Larry Foote re-upped on a three-year deal, and receiver Plaxico Burress is expected to get a one-year deal, too. Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley finally restructured his deal, and left guard Willie Colon was released. Pittsburgh designated him as a post-June 1 cut, allowing them to spread the cap hit out over 2013 and 2014. … The Steelers are interested in free agent running back Beanie Wells. Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski and linebacker Dan Connor are scheduled to make free-agent visits. Connor played his college ball at Penn State. We don’t like the Wells fit. Pittsburgh already has two plodders in Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman.

The Texans remained quiet, as well. Houston released receiver Kevin Walter, clearing the way for the team to finally address the No. 2 receiver spot with an athlete. … Free agent outside linebacker Connor Barwin’s chances of re-signing remain slim.

The Titans were the big winner of the day. Tennessee addressed one of the biggest holes on the team by signing top free agent guard Andy Levitre to a six-year, $46.8 million deal. Levitre is a top pass-blocking guard, but he’s also a quality run blocker. Jake Locker and Chris Johnson certainly signed off on it. The Titans could make their line one of the best in football by drafting one of Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack with the No. 10 overall pick in the draft. … Tight end Delanie Walker inked a four-year, $17.5 million contract. One of the top blocking tight ends in football, Tennessee will likely pair him with raw and athletic Taylor Thompson to replace Jared Cook’s production. … Tennessee is also expected to sign free agent defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill. The wide-bodied former Lion is adept at pushing the pocket. Free agent linebacker Moise Fokou has scheduled a visit. … The Titans released guard Mitch Petrus and safety Jordan Babineaux. They’re also shopping receiver Nate Washington as they eye free agent Danny Amendola.

The Vikings were also a winner on the opening day of free agency. Sure, they didn’t go out and sign any new players, but they kept some important pieces. Mauling right tackle Phil Loadholt re-signed for four years and $25 million after flirting with the Bears. Exceptional lead blocker fullback Jerome Felton agreed to a three-year, $7.5 million deal. Run-stuffing weak-side linebacker Erin Henderson agreed to a two-year contract, as did safety Jamarca Sanford. Backup center Joe Berger signed a one-year deal, and so did receiver Jerome Simpson. We don’t like the Simpson deal. At all. … However, the Vikings did make a release that rubbed some people in the organization the wrong way. Cornerback Antoine Winfield was cut. He’s still one of the best slot corners in the game, and shouldn’t be on the market for long. … Tight end John Carlson restructured his contract. He’s shaping up as a free-agent bust. … The Vikings aren’t actively pursuing free agent receiver Greg Jennings, but they could if his price comes down. Danny Amendola could also be an option. Minnesota badly needs receivers. … Minnesota may be interested in quarterback Matt Cassel once he gets released by the Chiefs.



Nick Mensio is a football writer for Rotoworld.com. The 2014 NFL season marks his third with Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.
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